857. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, [27 November 1803]
857. Robert Southey to Mary Barker, [27 November 1803] *
[Fifteen words crossed out] Senhora & thats all I have to say [five words crossed out] & for the impropriety of your song, either Mr. [ten words crossed out] seriously expects Bonaparte  to conquer England & you to be hung upon the same principle that Edward the first  executed the old Bards – or else the Mans a fool. by the by that execution is finely narrated by old Sir John Wynne – ‘he caused them all to be hanged by martial law, as stirrers of the people to sedition.’ 
We go on pretty much as usual. Edith but ailing – Coleridge quacking himself for complaints that would teaze any body into quackery – I myself pretty well I thank ye, bating eyes that like Bonaparte are always threatening mischief. Coleridge & I are the best companions possible in almost all moods of mind – for all kinds of wisdom & all kinds of nonsense to the very heights & depths thereof. I have a large room as a study – so large that God help me I look in it like a Cock Robin in a Church. the walls have only their first coat of plaister on (dont be frightened tis quite dry & has been so these two years.) the ceiling has all the cross lines of the trowel. my furniture is about as much as a poor fellow has in the Fleet Prison.  two chairs & a little round table. the wind comes in so diabolically that I could sometimes fancy myself in the cold provinces of Lucifer-land – if it were not that the view from the window is as heavenly as these on earth can be – so that from the mixture you may set it down to be my Purgatory – a state of torment with heaven in view. But I am going as we used to do at Westminster to string curtains across & so partition my self up into a corner with the fire place. here I sit alone. Piggarell only being permitted to enter. she passes about half her time here, I – all, but at meal times or when we walk. Here I have worked like a negro. One cargo of the “killed & wounded” i-e- the reviewed books – is sent away. A damned regiment are still to be killed off – all the trash that disgraces the English press – which is indeed at a miserable ebb. & I expect every day another batch to include Gobwins Life of Chaucer.  Oh! do you know who is the man who has published a volume of Poems under the assumed name of Peter Bayley Junr Esqr.  he talks of his native Wever  – which may be a sham – but that you know is in your part of the world. The Lord in Heaven have mercy upon that Gentleman – Scoundrel whosoever he be! for I have got him upon my thumbnail & shall – crack him Senhora, for a fidalgo.  He hath committed high treason against me in the first place, but what he is to be damned for is – first having stolen by wholesale from the Lyrical Ballads  – & then abusing Wordsworth by name. I will break him upon the wheel & then hook him up alive in terrorem  & make his memory stink in the noses of all readers of English present & to come. I wish he could know that his book has been sent to me to be reviewed & that Wordsworth has now got it to claim his own whenever he finds it. Every peacocks feather shall be plucked out & then his tail will be left – in a very fit & inviting condition for a cat-o-nine-tails.
I believe Coleridge has made up his mind to go to Malta for a change of climate & will set out by the first ship.  Remember you that this not being a country of fine trees summer & winter make a less difference to the painter than in the West of England. & as soon as the Spring begins to make every thing alive you must please to come & make us alive. do – do – draw figures instead of kickmanjiggery that you may make me some de[signs] for Madoc – which in good earnest I do mean to publish as soon as ever I can get a decent number of subscribers – I have got on bravely with it – & if my paper were larger could find in my heart to send you a delicate morsel. I will try to publish it myself for it is damned hard to spin out the very guts of ones brain & after all get less than a fellow in Paternoster Row,  because his breeches pocket is as full as my head, – heigh ho! Senhora! & my breeches pocket as empty as his numscull.
Will you not rejoice to hear that I am going to blow the Trumpet of alarm  against the Evangelicals? having got a History of the Methodists  to review. I will point up with precious effect of their Bands & Classes – the utter ignorance of human passions on which they are founded, & the utter destruction of all morals to which they tend. Is it not a happy hit to call them the Ecclesiastical Corresponding Society? indeed it is an alarming evil. the Wesleyans have in 30 years increased more than five fold – they are by their own statements 110,000 persons – & certainly the Whitfield  – the Calvinistic Branch must be more numerous. I write no more verses for the M. Post  – too much disgusted with its cant & folly & abominable proposal of giving no quarter  – since Stuart – has sold it & given up the management. My fraternal remembrances to Peter with a piece of the next pineapple. 
Harry is gone to Edinburgh to commence his studies there. – John Thelwall is expected to dinner here to day on his Lecturing Tour. John is thriving by Lecturing upon Elocution, & his name is in high odour – in spite of all old stories and prepossessions. he is a very honest-hearted man. a very excellent husband & fond father & I am heartily glad he is doing well. What news more? Only that Miss Bengay or Benjay or Bunjay or Bungy  tells everywhere the story of my playing at Pope Joan  & how she was disappointed  − there Miss Malice− that’s a sugar-plumb for you.
God bless you
yrs very truly RS.
* Address: To/ Miss Barker/ Congreve/ Penkridge/ Staffordshire.
Stamped: KESWICK/ 298
MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Robert Galloway Kirkpatrick Jnr, ‘The Letters of Robert Southey to Mary Barker From 1800 to 1826’ (unpublished PhD, Harvard, 1967), pp. 71-75 [dated late November 1803]
Previously published: John Wood Warter (ed.), Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey, 4 vols (London, 1856), I, pp. 253–256 [in part; dated Keswick 1804].
Dating note: Dated from internal evidence; Sunday was 27 November in 1803. BACK
 William Godwin, Life of Chaucer, the Early English Poet (1803), reviewed in Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), 462-473. BACK
 Peter Bayley (1778-1823; DNB), Poems (1803). ‘Bayley’ was not an assumed name. The first poem in his collection, ‘An Apology for Writing’, lines 46-55 and Note, attacked Southey’s Joan of Arc (1796) and (1798). The penultimate poem, ‘The Fisherman’s Wife’, could be read as a parody of Wordsworth and lines 115-119 had a Note, ‘The simplicity of that most simple of all poets, Mr Wordsworth himself, is scarcely more simple than the language of this stanza. Absit invidia dicto [let ill will be absent from these words].’ Southey contributed a coruscating review of Bayley’s book to the Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), 546-552. BACK
 Lyrical Ballads, With Other Poems, first published in 1798, with new, expanded editions in 1800 and 1802. BACK
 Southey’s publishers, Longman and Rees, had offices in Paternoster Row, near St Paul’s Cathedral. BACK
 Zephaniah 1: 16, ‘A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against high towers’. BACK
 William Myles (1756-1828), A Chronological History of the People Called Methodists (1803), Annual Review for 1803, 2 (1804), 201-213. BACK
 Southey’s ‘Epigram. Gallus et Taurus’, Morning Post, 15 December 1803, was his final publication in the newspaper, though it had probably been submitted much earlier. BACK